Is It Safe To Throw Sticks For My Dog?

If you’ve ever wondered ‘is it safe to throw sticks for my dog’? – read our Holidays4Dogs quick guide on the subject. You might just be surprised what a dangerous activity it can be.

Just over thirty years ago when I acquired my first dog, I soon discovered throwing sticks for my beloved pooch was a game to avoid. Like many people, I thought a game with a stick was something every dog enjoyed. Indeed, in recent years there has a growing trend for people to set up ‘stick libraries‘ for pooches. 

However, I will never forget that day – all those years ago – when I threw a stick for my dog and it lodged firmly in the soft ground, leaving it stuck up like a spike. As my dog raced to retrieve it, he injured his mouth on the protruding stick. Sadly, this resulted in a trip to the vet, but luckily no serious damage was done. Nevertheless, from then on, I decided I would  avoid throwing sticks for my dog altogether.

Why do dogs like sticks?

Dogs like chewing sticks because they are often soothing for sore gums – particularly for teething puppies.

Sticks are also fun, many dogs like to shred the bark from sticks and twigs – perhaps mimicking the killing of prey.

Branches, sticks and twigs also smell interesting to dogs.

Dogs love to chase moving objects – a thrown stick is fun to chase!

How can a stick injure my dog?

As we have already discussed, when a stick lodges in the ground it presents a hazard that can cause a dog to impale itself on. Damage can occur to the throat, mouth, eyes and nose.

Thorns and splinters can cause damage in the mouth and body, including paws.

Splinters can also cause choking.

Damage to teeth and gums.

The risk of your dog impaling him, or herself, on a protruding stick.

Different weights of sticks can bounce unpredictably and can, therefore, bounce into your dog causing injury, especially to the face and particularly the eyes.

There is also the potential for bacterial infections resulting from injury with sticks.

The general risk of injuries from sticks is relatively low. However, this hasn’t stopped British Veterinary Association warning about dangers of throwing sticks for dogs. Many vet practices suggest –  because of the injuries they see in their surgeries – playing with suitable alternative toys meant for dogs, is a far safer option.

Alternatives to sticks.

For general chewing, there are now many dog chews made from natural roots that do not splinter and are, therefore, safe for dogs to gnaw on. When considering interactive toys, or items for yourdog sitting, pet sitting dog to fetch you could consider something like the KONG Safestix – a durable, flexible material with rounded ends safe to use as a throw toy. As an added bonus it also floats.

There’s also the West Paw Zwig dog toy which is also a very safe alternative fetch toy for your dog. You can buy them in various sizes.

Of course, other toys make excellent throw toys such as balls, frisbees or knotted ‘raggies’. Do watch out for tennis balls, however. These aren’t really dog friendly as they can contain toxic chemicals. They can also damage a dog’s teeth and gums and pose a choking hazard.


If your dog loves chasing and fetching sticks there are numerous safe dog toys on the market to use alternatives. To avoid potential injury to your dog from chewing or, chasing sticks, do check out some of our suggested links for safer alternatives to throwing sticks for your dog. and 4Dogs are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commission fees by advertising and linking to the following websites. Read our full disclosure agreement here